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When Should Freelance Writers Ask for Help?

writers ask for helpI don’t know if my parents intended for me to grow up thinking I had to do everything by myself or not, but somehow I came to adulthood thinking it wasn’t okay to ask for help. I had the notion that I should already know how to do whatever it was I thought I wanted to do.

Learning to ask for help was, and if I’m honest, still can be, a struggle. At when I first started to write I didn’t want ask for help about my writing! I paid the price in how long it took me to learn certain things.

I’ve learned to ask for help and it makes my whole life not only easier but richer. Richer because by asking for help I get to interact and learn with others. When writers ask for help they enlarge their experience, which is a good thing I think.

I ask for help in my personal life

I was reminded of this last week when we put down Mz Tiz, my beloved cat.

I say ‘we’ because it was truly a joint effort. Members of the community I lived in gathered around in support of both me and Mz Tiz. Richard dug the grave. (And yes, there was a moment when I wondered if it was okay to ask him to do that! Self-doubt raises it’s head in the darndest places.) Rebecca found a great rock to mark the grave and of course, our wonderful mobile vet, Cynthia was there with her gentleness and understanding.

I ask for help in my business life

Yesterday when I sent a rather testy note to my web host, Blue Host, asking why my sites had slowed down. Not exactly a clear call for help, but they got the message anyway.

Much to my surprise a fellow named Matt called and said he’d been looking my account and that since I used WordPress on all of them I could move my sites to my own virtual server which would result in much faster speeds – and I’d get a $4 refund! That’s the kind of help we all love, and just another reason I recommend them for your sites.

I ask for tons of help in my writing life

I’ve had a ton of help from other writers – Lori Widmer, Cathy Miller, Sharon Hurley Hall, Jenn Mattern, John Soares… the list goes on and on.

I’m working with a business coach, Don Osborne, because I asked for help.

But you know what? I’ve had to ask for the help because as wonderful as these folks are, they are not mind readers.

I’ve learned to ask editors all sorts of questions from needed word count to what they really want me to write about. I’ve learned to ask clients to help me understand their business and their life so I can write about them they way they should be written about.

I ask in person; I ask over the phone. I ask when I make the call and when whoever calls me. I ask post office clerks the best way to send stuff, I ask retail clerks if there’s a less expensive way to buy whatever. I ask potential clients how many others they are talking with and how I rank. I tweet questions, and ask questions of writers, publishers and agents in Linkedin groups. I ask via email. I also ask in forums

People love to help

It’s true, people love to help. Think about it for a moment. Aren’t you usually glad to help someone when asked? I love it when I get asked to give advice about something I know.

Oh sure, I know there are folks out there who make themselves pests by asking for help way to often and with a sense of entitlement. Fortunately those folks are easy to say no to… most of the time.

No, I’m talking about the people who genuinely want your help and will offer you help in return if it breaks that way.

My writing and my life have been much improved since I quit trying to go it alone.

How about you? What’s your experience with asking for help?

Today, Thursday, is the last day to register for The Freelance Writer’s Business Solutions Course.

Write well and often,








{ 4 comments… add one }
  • I often say one of the greatest joys of our freelancing community is the generosity of sharing and helping.

    I have a VERY difficult time asking for help. I blame it (like many things) on my middle child syndrome. I have such a need to be independent. Silly as that may be. Think how much better the world would be if we each helped someone, even in some small way, every day.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Simple Tips for Holiday MarketingMy Profile

  • I agree, Anne, asking for help is great. Of course, you have to let go of the ego first, and that’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on the fact that you THINK you should know something instead of getting help from the people who actually know. Like you, I’ve found life easier since I learned to ask for help. 🙂
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..A Tale of a Dead Computer and Resurrected WritingMy Profile

    • Ah, the ego! I had a spiritual advisor at one point who would agree and also say ‘you can’t get across the street without an ego.’ Seems we have one for some purpose or other – just need to keep it right size. And yes, life is easier and more fun actually when I ask for help.

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